Ling 001 - The recent data gathered from Pirah and reported...

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-1 The recent data gathered from Pirahã and reported by linguist Dan Everett not only creates numerous problems for linguists, but threatens the entire basis on which the current definition of language is formed. Along with creating issues for linguists by defying characteristics that are always associated with language, the natives of Pirahã seem unable to make any adaptations to their language system. Pirahãs introduce linguists to problems that exist with linguists’ understanding of what constitutes a language and this has the potential to force us to completely redefine the concept of language. The Pirahãs introduce a number of problems for linguists, some of which appear to be relatively minor, while others are rather significant. The most startling fact regarding the Pirahãs is that their language contains no usage of subordinate clauses, which also suggests a lack of recursion (von Bredow). With no subordinate clauses and only three pronouns the Pirahãs do not expand phrases by embedding other phrases within them, they simply state what is currently happening without the use of excess terminology. While this does create problems for linguists in explaining how the Pirahãs can have a language without recursion, Everett does pose a possible resolution to this curiosity. Claims exist that suggest the Pirahãs are indeed capable of recursion, but simply elect not to use it due to their self-imposed cultural restraints. Another potential problem that researchers appear not to be concerned with is the lack of displacement used in the Pirahã language. Originally, it seemed as if they did not use it at all because of their belief that it was only important to “live here and now” (Von Bredow 1). Although Pirahãs have no concern over the past or the future, The Interpreter discusses a form of displacement used by the Pirahãs in the example of speech in which they discuss having
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seen a dog get bitten by a snake at the beach (Colapinto). This suggests that the natives are again capable of displacement when absolutely necessary, but do not use it unless the
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Ling 001 - The recent data gathered from Pirah and reported...

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